Bed-sharing is an option that many moms and dads consider from the minute they give birth. Although not a commonly recommended practice, parents from the more traditional cultures in Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America have been sharing a bed with their young for decades.
Sharing a bed with your baby or toddler has a whole range of positive effects, from forming a closer bond to helping your little one fall asleep quicker and for longer, as well as improving the quality of the parent’s sleep. Breast-feeding mothers may choose to bed-share for matters of convenience, such as being able to get more sleep, enabling their babies to latch on easily, and managing their milk supply better.
There’s some controversy around the safety levels surrounding bed-sharing, with some suggesting that it increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). So Baby Schooling has put together a list of things you can do to ensure that your baby is as safe as possible when sharing a bed with them if you choose to do so.
1. CLEAR THE AREA
Make sure that the space that your baby will be sleeping in is free of adult pillows and bedding. Any of these items can increase the risk of suffocation in babies, so it may be best to keep the bed clear of anything that could accidentally cover your child’s face. It’s worth purchasing a wedge to use as an alternative to a pillow for yourself, as these are less likely to move in the night accidentally.
2. BE LOGICAL
It goes without saying that you should not bed-share with your baby if you or your partner has recently consumed a lot of alcohol, if you or anyone in the bed smokes, if you have taken any sleep-inducing medication, or if your baby was born prematurely. Your little one’s safety is your top priority, and if it’s a risk for you to bed-share, then there are plenty of other bonding activities that the pair of you can partake in.
3. MAINTAIN THE CORRECT SLEEPING POSITION
You may be a lot closer to your baby when bed-sharing, but it’s still important that they are always lying on their backs when they’re sleeping to prevent SIDS. As well as this, it’s essential to not leave your little one alone in your bed, even if it’s free from bedding. There’s still a risk that your baby could roll out of bed, or end up in a position that they shouldn’t be in.
4. CHOOSE YOUR LOCATION WISELY
Most parents choose to bed-share with their baby in their double, king or queen bed, and this is the recommendation that we would give. Sleeping on an armchair or couch with your little one is not advised, as any sleeping arrangement that isn’t in a bed can increase the risk of SIDS by 50 times. Furthermore, you may want to push your bed against a wall and have your child on the side closest to the wall, to reduce the likelihood of them being able to fall out of bed.